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Common Ground Bar in Allston shuts down, months after facade collapse

A sign signifying the Common Ground’s last night sat outside the bar on Harvard Avenue in Allston Sunday. Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

Less than 10 months after its facade partially collapsed, critically injuring an aspiring concert pianist who has since sued the establishment, the Common Ground Bar and Grill in Allston was set to serve its final round Sunday night.

“The owner is selling it,” general manager Ryan Piercy said. “I found out at 9:30 this morning. I have no idea why.”

Owner Bob O’Guin died in April, according to Piercy and an online obituary. His widow, Laurie O’Guin, made the decision to sell, Piercy said. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday evening.

The bar has been a neighborhood staple since the 1990s, drawing a clientele of longtime residents, students, and young professionals from the diverse section of Boston.


Piercy said he has been managing it singlehandedly since last November, when its concrete facade crumbled onto pianist Sonya Bandouil and her boyfriend, Alex Pankiewicz, crushing Bandouil’s right hand and requiring the amputation of a finger.

Bandouil and Pankiewicz filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court in May, claiming that the building’s owner, property manager, and the bar collectively failed to properly inspect and repair the facade.

Outside the Common Ground on Sunday, a chalkboard sign read, “Sad to say . . . We’re closing our doors for good @ 2 a.m. Come raise a pint to CG.”

Inside, more than 100 people gathered Sunday night to toast the bar and each other, to share beers, hugs, and maybe a few tears. Many were regulars who have been coming for years — or decades.

Mercedes "Sadie" Robbins laughed across the bar while servings drinks on the last night Common Ground was open to the public. Robbins has been a bartender at the bar for over 15 years. Erin Clark for the Boston Globe

Benny Upton, 44, a firefighter who lives in Brighton, was there with his wife, Roberta, 49. “It’s like ripping our hearts out,” he said. “We met here 21 years ago.”

In 2002, after a City Hall wedding, they held their reception at the bar, posting flyers around the neighborhood that read, “Come in and witness a public display of affection,” Roberta Upton said.


“We wanted everyone there, including Mr. Butch,” Benny Upton said, using the nickname of Harold Madison Jr., a homeless man who was among Allston’s most recognizable faces before his death in 2007.

Rebecca Margolin, 34, said she met her boyfriend, Denver “Beau” Beatty, at the bar, and they came back for their first date. “Everyone’s sad that it’s going,” she said. “It’s just like a totally loving, nonjudgmental place to go.”

Beatty praised Piercy for keeping the bar going after O’Guin’s death. “It would have been closed as soon as Bob died if it wasn’t for him,” he said.

Matt Goddu, 27, a Common Ground regular who tended bar there for a time before returning to being a regular, said repeat customers helped make the bar what it was.

“This place is very special,” Goddu said. “I don’t know how many places are like this in Boston anymore, where you meet people and you just end up being friends with them for so long.”

Bar-goers enjoyed their drinks at the bar Sunday, the final night that Common Ground in Allston would be open.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe
Photos of staff and regulars filled the board that normally was home to menus on the last night Common Ground was open. Erin Clark for the Boston Globe
Customers played cards while commemorating the last night Common Ground has their doors open to the public.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe
Joey Robicheau held Arthur Buckley, 3, on Sunday, the last night Common Ground was open.Erin Clark for the Boston Globe
Rebecca Margolin hugged her boyfriend, Denver "Beau" Beatty, while hanging out on the patio of Common Ground. Erin Clark for the Boston Globe
The building housing Common Ground in Allston partially collapsed in November 2018.PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF/File

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.